By Carmen Glover
New York City’s largest residential cooperative, Co-op City, operated by Riverbay Corporation, is nestled in the Bronx on the New England Thruway, along the I-95 corridor and bordering Westchester County. It’s 35 sprawling buildings is home to more than 50,000 residents, many of whom showed up at 7:00 p.m. for a forum in Drieser Loop on Monday night to listen to administrators and invited presenters share details about pending changes in the operations of the complex.
But the forum devolved into an ugly, raucous, shouting fest and chaos when some of the residents, armed with their own agendas, refused to allow the presenters to complete their statements, choosing to hijack the forum and offer long-winded thoughts instead. Annoyed cooperators walked out at various points throughout the evening, fed up with the wanton display of clashing egos and unruly residents who seemed determined to disrupt the event.
“No!,” shouted Margaret, a female resident who seemed to disagree with every statement made by both residents and presenters. Annoyed residents chided her to “be quiet,” to no avail. “Recommendations were made to see if service cuts could be restored,” said Riverbay’s general manager Vernon Cooper, introducing a team of representatives from the,Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), New York City’s transit body, regarding bus service in the area.
Jacqueline Carter, assistant director of government and community relations at the MTA, explained that her team was “able to put together an amazing snapshot” of MTA ridership in Co-op City to determine if it is feasible for restore services that were changed in the past. But when her male counterpart said that a study of 1,000 riders were surveyed on specific days last September and October and a large percentage “were satisfied with the service,” angry residents drowned out his voice with a chorus of “no, no, no!”
“You have been meeting with politicians but none of them live here. You said you did a survey but who did you speak to?” asked Bernard Cylich, a community activist who scolded both the MTA representatives and Riverbay’s management team. Eleanor Campbell, another resident said: “Your numbers stating that only 8% of residents use the bus is not valid,” to sustained applause. “Every bus should go into every loop,” said another resident. “For 30 years the 26 and 28 buses worked fine but you changed it and it’s costing us. You are cutting up the bus service to line your pockets at our expense,” said a female resident, recounting that she now pays $10 each way to and from work instead of $5 due to the changes. Her statements were greeted with deafening applause.
Residents argued that the lines to ask questions were too long. They also argued that they were denied the opportunity to give lengthy speeches or curse out the representatives. Cooper, Riverbay’s general manager, was unsuccessful in his efforts to persuade the residents to follow the rules established for the event. For those who had the opportunity to ask questions, they refused to surrender the microphone, launching into campaign-like soliloquys as frustrated residents seethed.
Cooper then introduced Paul Shack and David Carlos by stating: “Many housing developments provide websites about the developments where they live and we felt it was a good idea to provide one for Co-op City.” Shack then said he and his partner “have the pleasure of creating a website for Co-op City,” before airing a two-minute clip about their proposed website which, among other features, would make it possible for residents for pay their carrying charges online. However, residents lost interest when the men insisted that concerns about security of personal information were unnecessary while failing to explain what built-n security features their website would have.
Carter, who left immediately after the MTA’s presentation, urged residents to contact her directly at Jacqueline.Carter@nyct.com, to express concerns. OnPointPress.net.